African Microbiome Institute
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

​​​​​​​​The African Microbiome Institute (AMI)​

The African Microbiome Institute (AMI) is a coordinating and directive body for microbiome research, training, and service provision. It is officially hosted by Stellenbosch University's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics. The AMI is uniquely mandated to also work across other faculties (Agri-Sciences and Science).

The AMI is unique in Africa, primarily because of its cross-faculty nature, which will stimulate the comprehensive study of the ecology of the microbiome from water, to soil, to plants, and finally to animals and humans. Given the rapid industrialization, migration and urbanization of the African people and the impact this is likely to have on our relationship with our environment, it is of fundamental importance to develop a deep understanding on our interactions with our microbiological environment and the factors that modify it. 

The goal of the AMI will be to serve a central resource that will integrate, develop, and exploit our multidisciplinary expertise. Studies are only beginning to appear that show the human microbiome is not an isolated 'organ' within the body, but rather a system that is in continuous contact with our environment that senses changes and signals immunological responses within our body that prevent disease and support survival.

While most biologists have for some time agreed that microbial ecosystems are at the base of all biotic activities, it is only now that we are beginning to understand the extent to which these ecosystems support specific functions within individual organisms that enables them to promote the health of plants, animals and humans in a very direct way. 

fig 2.png The microbiota represent life itself, beginning in the oceans, moving on to land colonizing the soil, fresh water, the plants, the animals, and humans. The process has been accelerated and modified by agriculture and industrialization, and international transportation​.

fig 3.png
The traditional African lifestyle, with home production of corn (mielies), beans and vegetables associated with a fiber-rich plant based diet which is associated with an extended lifespan uncomplicated by chronic non-infective westernized diseases, e.g. cancer of the colon, breast, liver, prostate, pancreas, atherosclerosis, diabetes and obesity (Reynolds et al.  Lancet 2019). There is robust evidence that this is driven by the colonic microbial fermentation of fiber to short chain fatty acids and the release of phytochemicals​.